Daleks in your garden? With Percy Thrower? Shurely shome mishtake…

Percy Thrower Forgives the Dalek by J.R. Harris

Every once in a while, an Amazon search turns up the most unexpected results – but nothing, perhaps, as bizarre as a melding of Daleks with garden design.

Released earlier this year, Percy Thrower Forgives the Dalek invites science fiction fans and gardeners alike to embark upon a light-hearted journey into the world of fantasy garden making.

The self-published title is inspired by both Terry Nation’s monstrous cyborgs from Doctor Who and British gardener, horticulturist, broadcaster and writer Percy Thrower, the popular participant in the BBC’s Gardeners’ World from 1969 until 1976.

“You will learn to appreciate and understand the landscape scenery carefully chosen or selectively built for sci-fi cinema,” assures Wigan-based author J.R. Harris, “and ultimately gain suitable knowledge and understand the vital techniques to create your own sci-fi or fantasy garden.

“Along the way the novice or would-be gardener will become acquainted with horticultural practices and be introduced to some of the key principles of good garden design.”

Readers are invited to join the author on a time-travelling expedition through sci-fi cinema, literature and the graphic novel, discovering a diversity of landscapes from arid deserts and ancient tundra to enchanting woodlands and exotic jungles.

“This literary journey endeavours to encourage, inspire and motivate the reader into creating an outdoor space that challenges traditional garden design and provides an exciting and personal fantasy paradise,” says Harris.

Suitable planting schemes are suggested for various fantasy scenarios, and favourable features, structures and artefacts are proposed to compliment each visionary landscape.

Percy Thrower Forgives the Dalek offers everything you need to know in order to embark on building your own personal uniquely alternative sanctuary.

Let’s be honest. Daleks are not known for their gardening skills. A Dalek is destroyed by a deadly Amaryll flower in the TV Century 21 “The Daleks” story, “The Amaryll Challenge,” published in 1965, art by Richard Jennings. You can read this story in the new “The Daleks” Bookazine
Let’s be honest. Daleks are not known for their gardening skills. A Dalek is destroyed by a deadly Amaryll flower in the TV Century 21 “The Daleks” story, “The Amaryll Challenge,” published in 1965, art by Richard Jennings. You can read this story in the new “The Daleks” Bookazine

For those who think that gardening is a safe, soppy and tedious pastime for the semi retired middle classes, think again! Jump onboard the author’s time machine and discover a diversity of alien alternatives to conventional peaceful green havens.

While you could be forgiven for thinking Daleks and gardening are a peculiar mix, back in 1984 the International Garden Festival of Liverpool, included a displays featuring a huge Beatles-inspired Yellow Submarine, the Blue Peter boat – and outside a BBC tent that offered the opportunity to play with BBC Micro computers and more stood a Magic Roundabout, a TARDIS, K9 – and two full size Dalek Props. The Doctor Who Exhibitions web site features a couple of photographs by Kevin McEwan.

“I remember searching all day to find the blooming BBC Garden tent thing,” notes the site’s creator, “and as I came down the hill and saw the TARDIS my nine-year-old heart jumped with joy, and I grabbed me Mum’s camera to take a couple of snaps! I conjured up all sorts of stories just looking at the props involving what had gone on, and had to be dragged away in the end.”

8409 International Garden Festival (2)
Photo via “Ian262” on Flickr

Hero Collector, which features a number of photographs, notes the creation of the Dalek props featured was down to exhibition designers Martin Wilkie and Lorne Martin. The pair used a mould to make fibreglass shoulder sections with the lower collar built into the rim, meaning that extra work did not need to be done to add this detail. The new shoulders were broader and less tapered than usual.

The show lasted five months and souvenir Doctor Who postcards do occassionally turn up on eBay, but the legacy of these props continued a lot longer than that. The moulds for the skirt and shoulders of these Daleks would become the new standard for television Daleks, beginning in Revelation of the Daleks. and also featured in modern era shows such as Asylum of the Daleks and The Witch’s Familiar.

J. R. Harris is a landscape design consultant, garden historian, writer, poet and tutor based in the north-west of England, who has worked in the land based industry since 1973.

Author J. R. Harris
Author J. R. Harris

Admitting he was the writer of “extremely naive science fiction as a teen – but at least the imagination and passion was there…”, he’s directed his writing towards a more general audience in recent years. This followed many years of writing more specialist material, seeking to both entertaining – and casually or subtly educate, too.

Over the years, he’s also designed, constructed and managed projects as diverse as tiny intimate courtyards and small formal gardens to major land reclamation schemes, public parks, memorial gardens, vast informal landscapes, lakes, wetlands, play zones and sports grounds.

His passion is for historic, classic and tastefully themed gardens, and he particularly enjoys producing imaginative designs, introducing drama into the landscape and utilising alternative materials and interesting artefacts.

Percy Thrower Forgives the Dalek: The definitive guide to appreciating and creating sci-fi and fantasy gardens is available here from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

J.R. Harris on Write Out Loud

Liverpool International Garden Festival Links

Hero Collector, which features a number of photographs,notes the creation of the Dalek props featured was down to exhibition designers Martin Wilkie and Lorne Martin

Paul Dykes Dalek photographs from the 1984 Liverpool International Garden Festival

Ian262’s photographs from the 1984 Liverpool International Garden Festival

Alamy: Photographs from the 1984 Liverpool International Garden Festival by Ian Simpson

Photo by Dave Bridson va Yo! Liverpool

Dalek Design

Dalek6388 has more about the Revelation of the Daleks Dalek designs here

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



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